While they look pink and weak, the gums are actually tough customers. After all, they are what are protecting the roots of your teeth. Treat your gums well and they will take care of your teeth. Neglect them at your own peril!
Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease. It involves infection of the gums that can end up with tooth loss.
But this is not all doom and gloom. Periodontal disease begins with dental plaque, which is the sticky film that forms on your teeth throughout the day. Plaque has lots of bacteria in it. The good news is that dental plaque is easy to remove simply by daily brushing and flossing. In fact, a good home dental hygiene program of brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing once a day is usually enough for most people to never have to deal with gum disease.
Ah, but there’s the rub. Lax home hygiene, along with other factors such as smoking, can allow plaque to have its way with your mouth. When plaque isn’t removed it hardens into calculus, also known as tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist.
Gingivitis first. Periodontitis later.
The first signs of problems are gum irritation. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins that irritate the gums. They become red and bleed easily. Plus, the tartar that has formed gradually makes its way below the gumline, leading to more irritation. This irritation is called gingivitis.
At this point, you can reverse the trend by coming to see us at Gentle Dental for a professional cleaning and by doing a better job with your home hygiene. But if you don’t opt for this route, the gum irritation worsens, and the gums begin to pull away from the teeth causing pockets for form. These pockets hold all the bacteria from the plaque and that bacteria begin to attack the roots of the teeth. You can see where this is leading — tooth loss and jawbone deterioration.
Now, a trip to see Dr. Strober and Dr. Butkofski will be necessary just to keep your teeth. They’ll need to do things such as gum planing and scaling. They may need to prescribe some antibiotics if infection has taken hold. A root canal could be required to save a tooth or teeth.
And to think, all of this could have been prevented with simple brushing and flossing at home, combined with twice-yearly visits to the friendly confines of Gentle Dental for professional cleaning and exams. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to book your appointment.